Tyler Tom is always on the hunt for amazing, true God-stories around the YWAM Tyler campus, and this one blew us all away! Join us as we travel with Derek Sandiford (one of our beloved South African staff members) on an unforgettable outreach journey...
It was 2016, and by a miracle of God's eleventh-hour provision I had landed in Mexico with the rest of my classmates on our School of Evangelism outreach. We were hosted by YWAM Creel, a base located in the mountainous Chihuahua region of Mexico. One of our exciting team projects was to create an agricultural garden using the contours of the earth to generate a self-watering system. We tried to enlist the services of the base's skid-loader to help us in this project, but all attempts to get this machine started met with failure. Because I'm handy with machines, I checked it over and determined it was in need of new filters. Willy, our host at YWAM Creel, offered to drive me to town to find the necessary replacements.
However, being in the remote mountains of northern Mexico as we were, this was no small undertaking. Quite unlike a trip to the local auto-parts store in America, this was going to be a full day's outing! To reach town we had to carefully navigate along a steep dirt road, made all the more treacherous by recent rainfall. We also had to pass through a checkpoint manned by military commandos, which Willy thankfully negotiated with skill in his fluent Spanish.
Commandos behind us, we continued our slip-sliding journey until, a little further down the road, we encountered a local man unsuccessfully attempting to coax a tipper-truck up the mountain. His vehicle was struggling to get any traction on the slippery road surface, causing him to lose more ground than he was gaining. Willy and I immediately pulled over and offered to help the guy. From the back of his Chevy truck, Willy produced a length of strong rope which we attached to the tipper-truck, securing it tightly to the Chevy's rear bumper. My job was to jump up and down repeatedly on the truck bed to enable our tires to gain traction on the slippery road. Meanwhile, Willy revved the engine to full power, straining the rope close to breaking point as we inched forward. Progress was slow, as we negotiated the many twists and turns and gradually gained ground up the mountain. I was sweating profusely with the exertion of repeated bouncing while working to maintain my balance on this hazardous journey. With each bounce, I strained to glimpse the muddy road ahead of us, willing our convoy onwards and upwards
Finally, I noticed with relief that we were approaching an area where the tipper-truck driver would be able to carry on independently. I willed my weary body to keep jumping, directing all my strength into each bounce with increasing determination.
And then, suddenly, I experienced a moment that changed everything...
I felt my feet push off the metal truck bed, as they had so many times already. But this time as I strained my eyes to see the road ahead of us, I was greeted only by a vision of clear blue sky. The familiar road had completely disappeared. In that awful instant I realized the Chevy had slid off the road and was now airborne - tumbling helplessly over the steep mountainside with tipper-truck in tow. My legs vibrated with an unnatural hollow sound as I landed on a truck bed no longer in contact with the earth. In spite of myself, my eyes squeezed tight as I mentally prepared for the crash at the end of this ride which I believed would propel me straight into heaven. I held my breath. And waited.... waited... NOTHING. Curiosity overcame fear as my eyes snapped open once again. To my utter astonishment, we were back on the road. The sensation of weightlessness evaporated and our convoy resumed our winding ascent of the mountain road. IT HAD ALL HAPPENED IN AN INSTANT.
Moments later, we drew to a halt and unhitched the tipper-truck. The driver seemed oblivious to our close brush with death, but Willy and I stared at one another ashen-faced. We hurriedly retraced our path down the mountain to the spot where this inexplicable moment had occurred. Before our very eyes were the Chevy's tire-tracks, sliding unmistakably towards the side of the mountain. And then there was a gap of at least 100 feet, after which the tire-tracks resumed ON THE ROAD at the place where I had reopened my eyes. We shook our heads in disbelief. How had our truck turned in mid-air, altering its projected course over the edge of the mountain and landed back on the road? How was it possible we were standing there staring at these tracks, instead of lying in crumpled ruins at the foot of the mountain? A sense of holy awe, relief, and gratitude swept over us.
In the months since that incredible day, I have often reflected back on what happened. No matter how hard I might try, I can fathom only one explanation for what occurred: Someone picked up that truck and put it back down on the road. It was quite simply a miracle.
I don't claim to understand why God does all the things He does. But He has ways of revealing Himself however He chooses. That experience on the mountain in Mexico confirmed my belief that God is with us everywhere, at every moment, and that our lives are truly in His hands.
It wasn't our time yet. So, by the grace of God, I will press on to complete all He has for me to do during my days on this earth.
Do you long to see the hand of God at work in your life more clearly like Derek has? Take the plunge into a training school at YWAM Tyler! Your journey will begin with a Discipleship Training School (commencing January, April, July and October each year). Who knows where you'll go as you take this step with God!
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